I haven’t really known what to do or say about the array of sexual harassment stories that have come out of the #MeToo movement. However, when I read the story last week about Pastor Andy Savage receiving a standing ovation from his church in Memphis after openly admitting from the pulpit that he had in fact been a sexual predator of a young woman who was a minor when he was a youth pastor I just feel I need to write something. Yes, I’m thankful his church is willing to show him some grace, but I’m deeply bothered by the mere idea of giving a standing ovation even for alleged abuse. Sadly as Ed Stetzer of Christianity Today wrote on the subject, “Again, the church has to be taught to listen to victims. And churches need to learn to respond better. It’s not a PR issue; it’s a justice issue.”
I know this #MeToo moment can be wearying for people. For some it is wearisome because there’s just so many allegations and reports that it’s hard to digest what is and isn’t factual. For others, namely some men, it can feel like another way in which our culture continues to pile on and accuse them of everything that is wrong in society. While I understand some of the weariness, I invite people to recognize this as an important time. It is an important moment when the structures of privilege and power, and those holding the privileges are being called to account for the ways they have abused others just to satisfy their own needs and lusts. Anyone who believes in truth and justice has to care about the stories the victims are sharing, no matter how many years have passed since their victimization first occurred.
As the son of a beautiful mom, the husband of a beautiful woman, father of a beautiful daughter, and a pastor to an amazing array of women – I just want to say that I’m grieved and sorry for what many of you have endured in the face of structural evils stacked against you as women. I personally have felt the pain of women very close to me, who have faced harassment that has deeply wounded them and I understand just the slightest fraction of how difficult it was to admit the hurt and shame to themselves and then to those who felt safe – let alone to have enough courage to confront their harasser/abuser. I encourage all women who have endured such things to stand up and share your story with the people you trust, and be a part of toppling evil structures (including those in the church) that for too long have cast a blind eye on these kinds of abuses for far too long.